Fridays 5 with Nina Norstrom

Nina Norstrom, grew up in a small suburban town outside Chicago, Illinois. She received her bachelor’s degree from Concordia University. Norstrom is affiliated with and a member of various writers’ groups. In 1992, she started journal writing to help find solace. But it wasn’t until 2010 that she was able to publish her first writing experience. The book, "Not a Blueprint: It’s the Shoe Prints that Matter, A Journey Through Toxic Relationships," is a representation of her growth and signifies a milestone in her recovery from toxic relationships, to the transition of non-toxicity.
Nina says, “Medically, this whole program of journaling has been a healing process.  It has helped to shape and transform a toxic journey into a prescription for healthy emotional wellness. Truly, I’ve been blessed to have seen light at the end of a tunnel ─ and knowing I’ve reached a level of personal growth.” 

“It was through my dark journey, I’d learned a powerful lesson: God never gives up on us.  And it’s that reason alone why we should never give up on ourselves.”

Personable, compassionate, and direct . . .

She is a passionate champion for many noteworthy causes, including those battling toxic relationships. When not reading or writing, she can be found mountain climbing, taking long walks in a park or alongside a beach, sitting at an entertainer’s concert, supporting an author at their book event, somewhere traveling, and even jumping in to exert her energy by doing volunteer work, at a variety of venues.

1) When did you first get serious about writing?

A.) Perhaps, the seriousness of my writing was a two-fold process.  Initially, I didn’t start out with wanting to become a writer.  It was my traumatic experiences which lead me to a writing journey.  I’d kept a journal for years about that ordeal, and it became my best friend.  It was the one and only thing I had to release the pain.

Yes, as a result of my experience, I had been going through therapy for quite some years, but there was nothing more rewarding and comforting than writing about the events and the pain. It was as if I was the patient, and my writing was the therapist.  Inside this writing bubble, I could do all the speaking without any interruptions.  I would just let it pour out!

The other major reason was because I’d felt trapped as if inside a burning inferno.  Inside that world was rawness and pain staged and staggered with tons of toxic emotions.  The news of hearing, “Your child has a disease,” that there is no cure for; only remission.  It was that news that made it even worst.   For me, it was an experience I knew no parent should ever have to endure.  In this journey God had chosen my family to endured, I felt suffocated.  To nurture those wounds and find physical healing, I used my pen and paper to escape that toxic world.  My writing helped to break through the rawness and pain barriers and was used as a release vehicle for all that toxicity.   The rawness and pain just ate at me, it wouldn’t go away. I just couldn’t shake it.  So once I finally tapped into a part of me that was ready to heal, it was that writing which would become a “physical wound healing relationship,” for me.

So actually, I wrote as a means of therapy; not realizing those pages were about someone’s personal journey, and of all people, mine.

2) What is the hardest part for you about writing?

A)The whole darn process with all of its writing elements; and having to put that on paper for someone to understand.

Especially, after you’ve maneuvered through a healing process, and have to go back and relive some dark toxic emotions that you’ve buried deep within.  Having buried them all those years, you really don’t want those emotions to be erupted by talking about them (that can be very painful, even to this day).  Yet, you’re forced to tap into them in a manner so that it makes sense on paper.  When something is painful, sometimes you have to get away from the writing for several days, or more.  Once returning, then you need to find a way to push through to give life and character to that which has caused you grief.  And that can be most hard to do when writing.

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Synopsis: Allowing us to learn lessons, let go of toxicity, and gain insight, relationship can play a powerful role in our lives. They are formed with people, alcohol, animals, battlefields, diseases, drugs, environments, and even our emotions. Whether toxic or nontoxic, relationships are an integral component of daily living. Author Nina Norstrom lost her child to a disease, but that wasn't the only toxic relationship she endured. In this book, she explores the effects that her relationships with grief, pain, trauma, and forgiveness have had on her life. This tale exposes a mother's struggle to escape her world of toxicity, her journey out of the clutches of diseased relationships, and the shoe prints the experiences have left on her family's history. This story in its raw form projects a remarkable voice to the heroic fight, courage, and bravery gained when striking back to wipe out toxic relationships. Its message reveals that life brings many challenges and that each challenge provides lessons to be learned. This book is not intended to be a blueprint for dealing with diseased relationships. It's about the shoe prints: those symbols of life's journey that are left by our experiences. "Not a Blueprint: It's the Shoe Prints that Matter" is an insightful and inspiring personal story of one family's journey through toxic relationships.

3) How did you feel  upon publication of your first completed project?

A)  For me, it was what I now call my “practice piece.”  The thoughts inside my head was scattered all over the place. It’s that way you know, after being traumatized.   And the writing came out that exact way.   The story inside the book, it was like I didn’t care what was stated; or how it was stated.  In writing it, there would be no structure of characters or scenes. During that phase, characters, scenes, and language meant very little.  The journey itself hadn’t been structured although it had plenty of toxic scenes, in a sense.

Looking back now, it amazed me that the story was published.  And no it was not a self-published product.  The publication was done by a publishing company. Remember now, when I wrote the first side of the story, I was literally trapped in another world.  So writing the first project, actually gave some relief to the pain I’d been experiencing.  I had cursed the pain and journey. I’d finally released all the hurt and pain.  So there it was on every page, inside a book. There it was that journey and what it took to get there.  And that exposure had given a feeling of great accomplishment.

4) What is more important to you, story, or character? Why?

A)Personally, I think they both weigh out the same.  One is no more important than the other.

When dealing with them (story and character), they should go hand in hand.

The story should be a well written one, with structure and development.  And there should always be a message behind any story; and one that could make for an interesting read.  You’d want the audience to stay engrossed into those pages, from beginning to end.

Knowingly, was the start enough to feed their interest? And was the end developed enough to satisfy that interest?

Now, the characters are what shape the story.  Although they’re on paper, you want your reader to be able to visualize them.  So as a writer, you shape them descriptively, bringing them to life.  And as these characters take their places inside the story and move through their plots, reader s will either like them or dislike them.   And having good characterization, can even give a reader a sense of relate-ability.

5)  What is a typical day like in your world?

A) Active, being active, never really trying to stay idle.  But soon as I crawl out of bed, I must give praise to God, for waking me up to see another day; and allowing my feet to touch the ground. Shortly thereafter, I’m looking at all those posted notes attached to the bedroom door.  And they all have the word “volunteer” (tagged) somewhere in its message.  If I’m not scheduled for a particular company to volunteer for that day, I either have to attend a volunteer meeting.

But before I’m off and running to perform those volunteer duties, I’m getting my walk exercise in. On occasion, I tend to sneak in a bit of antique shopping. So there’s always something that’s going to keep me busy and preoccupied. It could be a number of things I have going in a given day.

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